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Planning for NDC implementation: A Quick-Start Guide

CDKN and Ricardo Energy & Environment have developed a new ‘Quick-Start Guide’ to support planning for Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) implementation.
Mamma Sawaneh


The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, and now all eyes turn to implementing the national climate commitments: the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Responding to this challenge, CDKN and Ricardo Energy & Environment have developed a ‘Quick-Start Guide’ to support planning for NDC implementation.

The guidance contains sections on Governance, Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance and Measuring, reporting and verification, in addition to information on how to use the guide.

Given the inherent synergies between adaptation and other development goals, NDC implementation can contribute to nearly all of the SDGs, especially those on health and well-being (SDG 3), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and ecosystems and biodiversity (SDG 15). The UNFCCC’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process provides a country-driven, comprehensive approach to adaptation planning and implementation. This is an appropriate process for achieving the adaptation goals contained in countries’ NDCs.

If a country’s NDC sets out what adaptation outcomes it is aiming for, then the National Adaptation Plan process details how to achieve these through the iterative planning, mainstreaming and stakeholder engagement processes required for effective adaptation. This guide (in the module on adaptation) presents the key activities needed, which align with the technical guidelines for the National Adaptation Plan process, produced by the UNFCCC’s LDC Expert Group.

The guide is available online at:

The Quick Start Guide

The new guide addresses the NDC process specifically for developing countries, taking into account their diversity and different starting points.

What’s more, the guide takes countries’ wider development objectives into account, recognising that climate action would be a missed opportunity otherwise. Implementing NDCs can support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across all sectors and levels of government and society.

“The urgent need to take action on climate change has been recognised by leaders around the world in their rapid endorsement of the Paris Agreement, but its success will depend upon the implementation at national level as outlined in the NDCs… NDC commitments represent the opportunity for fundamental shifts in a country’s approach to economic development and poverty alleviation and the Guide presents some initial steps to bring the NDCs to life…

…This Guide is intended to accelerate the integration of climate action in the policies, plans and investments of countries as they take their NDCs forward”

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive.

Scientific evidence irrefutably shows that climate change and disasters have enormous current and future impacts on development. That is why the strong links between NDC implementation and the SDGs are recognised throughout the guide and accompanying reference manual.

The guide works through the key issues and is rich in lessons and materials from practice. It is aimed at policy-makers at national and subnational levels, and development partners and practitioners supporting the implementation of NDCs. It was designed at the request of a number of developing countries, which have expressed a need for early practical guidance on how take action in what is a fast-evolving space.

The work draws on the authors’ experience of supporting climate and development policy preparations in a number of countries, and was developed through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including climate and development practitioners, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network’s (CDKN) global network of in-country advisors and international organisations working to support developing countries with implementing their NDCs.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on the 4th November 2016. The focus now turns to implementation and transforming countries´ NDCs into action on the ground. To achieve all of this, political leadership at the highest levels will be needed, along with a clear governance structure for implementation. Developing an NDC implementation plan is the first, crucial step towards this.

Please visit and share the Guide:

“Many countries are keen to get going on NDC implementation but are held back by a lack of clear guidance on how to go about this. This guide provides a practical tool to help address this barrier”

Emelia Holdaway, Principal Consultant at Ricardo- Energy & Environment.

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